So Frenchie, so chic (Montreal)

I arrived at another high quality hostel in Montreal in time to chime into the conversation of the two Australian guys and one Italian/Austrian/German lady in my room before sinking into another pleasant two hour nap. By this time an annoying head cold had come upon me, but it was not too dire.

After I had set my alarm, woke up, showered and got ready for unspecified evening events, the other three – who had been out having dinner – returned. After grabbing a schwarma kebab (I had not eaten) I joined them in the bar downstairs where enthusiastic Montreal rockabilly dancers were cutting a swing dancing rug to 50s rock music.

After a drink or two we headed out to see what we could find: the man at reception directed us to ‘the best club in Quebec’. We didn’t go into the downstairs club section but the bar section did not appear to be anything spectacular, at least not on a Wednesday night.

I Googled that there was a popular night at an Irish pub on a Wednesday. This place was a chain so I led us to the nearest one – however I imagine the popular night occurs at one of the other of the three venues, which was too far away for us. Nonetheless our location had a chilled out cover band duo and it suited me to sit and chat to this – especially as my head cold was making me feel inordinately tired.

We saw people going into a club or bar next door so went inside to check it out. There were a few people in this small circular bar of pumping music, but we all agreed we were tired and split a $9 taxi back at the not-too-early time of 1:30. As the only four people currently in our eight bed dorm it was very convenient to all go to bed at the same time and not have to be woken up by others coming in later.

After a fairly dodgy start to my sleep due to my worsening cold, I managed – with the help of some blessed night time cold and flu tablets I had with me – to sleep fairly immovably until 2pm. I then eventually dragged myself out and leisurely showered in the empty dorm before heading out to see Montreal.

I was informed I needed to try poutine in Montreal (it is available all over Canada but it is meant to be specifically Quebecoise) so I googled a place called ‘Montreal Poutine’ and charted my course there on foot. It may have been the touristiest of the touristy places, but it did conveniently lead me to where I should be sight-seeing: Old Montreal.

I enjoyed my poutine with smoked meat, also apparently a Montreal specialty – although I supposed it was a tad underwhelming after the hype – on the sunny street before spending the rest of the afternoon wandering around and photographing the streets of old town. I popped into a chapel and saw the big Notre Dame from the outside, but I didn’t go in. I had a whole other day to explore more the next day – or so I thought.

I ended up back at the hostel at 6pm just as the other three had arrived from their day. They had just booked – woe – the last three tickets to a huge international student club party that was going on that night at a popular Montreal three story club.

Annoyed, because it seemed like a good opportunity to enjoy Montreal’s supposedly amazing clubbing, I went onto the Facebook event and was eventually able, through the wonders of Facebook messaging and bank transfers to another Canadian account, to secure a virtual ticket from a stranger who couldn’t go anymore. So I went with two of the others (the third was going to an ice hockey game) to dinner at an Asian restaurant before we had a beer in our room and headed to the club at 11.

While in the line we fortuitously saw our fourth member and hailed him over: he had no phone so we would not have been able to find him inside. Once inside we went straight to the flag painting table and I was eventually able to paint in the blue of my self-drawn Australian flag (using eyeliner and lipstick). Actually, I sped up the process by allowing a random proud Quebecoise (he was sporting the Quebecoise flag, NOT the Canadian one) to do the colouring.

The club was large and full of enthusiastic young students, including quite a few Australians who were enthusiastic to meet me. However, I could not help but feel incredibly too old, as seems to happen a lot lately when I go to venues populated with university students. Additionally, I had to leave the main room where the others were when my recently discovered Flicker Vertigo, which causes me to become nauseated when in a room with strobe lights, forced me downstairs.

After a while I found on my phone some apparently ‘older crowd’ venues a six minute walk away and strode off. It was already about quarter to one so I figured it hardly mattered if I left then anyway. I found the presumed venue on a street with many venues: the bouncer kindly told me there weren’t many people inside, so I went across the road instead to the Winston Churchill, a busy bar with many people on the dance floor, and definitely more age appropriate.

However, I still had that cold, and it was late, and I did find the fact that people spoke French first and then English a little prohibiting to conversation, so I headed back to the hostel in a $9 taxi: the dorm was already full with seven other sleeping bodies.

The next morning I woke after a horrible non-sleep: my cold was worse and it was too hot in that dorm to rest properly. I decided without too much deliberation to change my bus to a day earlier and leave that afternoon: I was in no state to go out that night, so there was no point sticking around in that hot dorm. I had also already seen as much as I really wanted to of Montreal – except for having properly experienced the nightlife, which is apparently amazing, but I will probably never know. (However my enjoyment of a small industry night in a tacky Gatineau nightclub in Ottawa, for example, implies to me that it is personal experience and people that actually make a night out enjoyable).

This decision was just in time, as I needed to give 24 hours’ notice to change my bus. I got up for the free breakfast, went back to bed for a couple of hours, then wandered to a chain cafe that the others had said they had had amazingly delicious crepes at the day before, for lunch. I made the mistake of ordering a savoury crepe, which are probably never as good – although the ham, cheese an egg one I had at that stand in Paris was delicious. But I just rarely feel like sweets for a main meal!

I got to the bus station in good time for the 3pm bus, stopping to take photos of interesting sights along the way – my route also took me right through Chinatown.

However, the bus was then delayed over an hour and fifteen minutes. The bus ride was then 6.5 hours – longer, I’m sure due to the uncomfortably jerky stop-start peak hour traffic out of Montreal that was not supposed to be there. I finally arrived ‘home’ to Toronto at about 11pm in time to subway straight to two minute noodles and BED.

Leave a Reply